[ARC] Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in italiano


Rotherweird is a strange town: it’s in England but it is completely independent administratively, it’s almost inaccessible and it’s forbidden to study history before 1800.

Two external however come into the town: Jonah Oblong, who has to teach modern history to the local school, and Sir Veronal Slickstone, who was allowed to renew the old Manor House.

It’s evident that Sir Veronal has other evil plans, and for this reason some of the town’s inhabitants will have to share old secrets and to discover the old and forbidden history of Rotherweird.

The novel alternates the present events to ones from the past (1500 ca.) that clarify why the town was born and the reason why it is forbidden to study history.

In my opinion the book is engaging from the half, in the beginning I found difficult to sort plot and characters (they have strange names that I found easy to confuse).

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

Advertisements

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in italiano


As the title suggests, Six-Gun Snow White is a western style Snow White retelling.

Snow White is the daughter of an indian woman and a whiter man, and the name was given her by her step mother, who always recall her what she would never be, being half-blood.

From the original story there are various elements, the step mother who is also a witch, the mirror that here seems to contain a parallel world, the change of the heart. Snow White is not a gentle girl in need of help but she is able to deal issues with her guns.

As in most of the stories by this author I reach the end and ask myself: how much it was the story and how much its embellishment? Catherynne M. Valente writes in a beautiful and rich prose that however in the end leave doubts about the balance between shape and content.


* Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in italiano


Ava is born with a pair of beautiful wings, attached to her body and impossible to be removed surgically; Ava has also a twin brother, Henry, who prefers not to talk and not to be touched. They are a couple of peculiar child, and their weirdness comes from back in time, from their French great-grandmother, before her immigration to the USA.

Ava’s voice bring the reader into the story of her family, from her silent great-grandmother, to Emilienne, Ava’s grandmother, who brings the sorrow of her brother and sisters who left her, and Ava’s mother, Viviane, suffering for a unrequitted love; all of them have something strange skills, and it’s like this weirdness, this magic, accumulated till the born of Ava.

The novel is not all about the past (the structure in this sense reminds me of Middlesex), Ava tells also the story of the present time – her childhood lived at home, her mother being protective for Ava strangeness, her few friends – and of a specific and dramatic period of her life.

The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender is an intense novel, mainly in the ending part, and it’s so easy to like the main characters, so strange but so different from the brutal normality of common people around them.


* The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in Italiano

I have to be honest. Mr. Fox is not an easy novel, also for it being an example of meta-novel (or story in the story) but mainly for the way it is built.

Mr. Fox writes novels where female characters always face a tragic death, but he is also an imaginative man, so much that Mary Foxe – his ideal woman imagined during the war in the trenches – actually takes form in his life.

He will have to share his affection between Mary, his ideal love, and Daphne, his real wife, who in fact he does not know as well as Mary. To this situation it adds the game between him and Mary, a sparring of tales and stories where the character have remarkable resemblance with the true Foxes and their relational dynamics: the stories, that contain at first more clear connections (characters with same name as the Foxes) and then more vague, cover different topics and narrative styles (a model who wants to forget his father, a school for wannabe husbands and so on) and leave space for the reader to find the connections to the main plot of the novel.

Foxes, is well-known, are tricky and illusionist creatures, and so the Foxes change the appearance in each story; in addition to this element that comes from the folklore (in Japan there are the kitsune, but foxes are deceitful also in the West), the novel takes also from the classical fairy tales and their characters, more or less noticeably.

It’s a novel I found it hard to explain, but I’m convinced it deserves to be read; for the ones who seek for a more detailed comment I suggest to read this review by Aimee Bender.

_______

* Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

The girl in the flammable skirt by Aimee Bender

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in Italiano

The girl in the flammable skirt is a collection of stories by Aimee Bender, published when the author was nineteen years old – something I think it should be mentioned, since the book does not seem written by a young beginner.

The stories can be connected to the magic realism genre, for the stories elements and situations like the mutant girls with the hand of fire and ice, the ruby ring with magical proprieties, the man who wakes up with a hole in his belly, …

The thing that group the stories is the fact they have as main character mostly young women in search of something to fill their dissatisfaction: the stories are marked by a slightly melancholy the characters try to face, so a girl spends her day in evaluating men, another in trying to find out if it’s still possible for her to love her husband, and a librarian give herself to the library customer to forget her father’s death.

Some of the story are more easy to remember respect to others, overall the book in my opinion works thanks to the dissatisfaction theme that is above each story. The reader then remembers the emotive impression the collection made more than each single story.

_______

* The girl in the flammable skirt by Aimee Bender ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in English

Magic Realism

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in Italiano

This month the  YA group is about the exploration of the “magic realism” genre, so these books where magical elements (or folklore or supernatural ones, etc..) are contextualized in the real life without issues about their nature or origin.

In this sense – without being conscious – I read some stories by Kelly Link (books I do not feel about advising, too much inconsistent for me), but the reading group gave me the chance to know new authors and wonderful books – and to discover that loved classic writer also belong to this category.

The books falling into this category fascinate me (exceptions excluded) for the dream-like atmospheres they describe, the real with something strange to make it special.

Some of my previous comments are about this genre, the amazing The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (I will read more from her, oh yeah), Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (I think it falls in the category), and other will come, like The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender and Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi.

The bloody chamber and other stories by Angela Carter

Standard

Leggi questo articolo in Italiano

“The bloody chamber” is one of the stories by Angela Carter contained in this collection. The stories are inspired by fairy tales and myths, some of them in fact can also be defined as retelling.

The author stated that:

My intention was not to do ‘versions’ or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, ‘adult’ fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories.

In every story the latent symbolism of the classic fairy tales is exasperated: these version by Angela Carter allow the reader to think about different topics and it’s very hard to let them slip out your mind; they are captivating, wonderfully written and full of idea to analyze both the original fairy tales themes, both the symbols introduced by the writer herself.

The tales have original traits even if they take origin from existing narrative structures: for example the story of Beauty and the Beast is adapted in two completely different versions.

The stories have in common strong-willed women characters, well aware of their sexuality – or becoming so during the story – who face with courage their problems.

This collection was a wonderful discovery that I absolutely suggest to read.

_______

* The bloody chamber and other stories by Angela Carter ★★★★★

*I read this book in English